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Evidence-based Practice and Quality Improvement

The incidence of recalled dreams after general anaesthesia with reference to patient factors and type of anaesthetic agents administered


Chatten, K.; Brandner, B.; Almahdi, B.

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European Journal of Anaesthesiology (EJA): June 2013 - Volume 30 - Issue - p 10-10
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Background and Goal of Study: There are few consistent associations between patient/anaesthetic factors and the recall of dreams following general anaesthesia. We aimed to gather more information with regard to these associations.

Materials and Methods: Participation in this prospective, observational study was voluntary. Patients completed a questionnaire following emergence from anaesthesia and on postoperative day one. Peri-operative medications received were recorded with permission.

Results and Discussion: Of 200 participants, 35 recalled dreaming under general anaesthesia (17.5%). The documented incidence of recalled dreams varies greatly, depending particularly on length of time elapsed from emergence from anaesthesia.

[Pharmacological agent received and dream recall]

These results might be explained by evidence suggesting dreams tend to occur close to emergence from anaesthesia2, and that the incidence of dreaming under anaesthesia is higher when emergence is more rapid1. As in previous studies1, recall of dreams seems most common in those receiving propofol based anaesthesia.

[Usual dream recall and dreaming under anaesthesia]

These results are concordant with a previous study in which dreams under anaesthesia were linked to a tendency to recall dreams in general1.

Conclusion(s): Dreams under general anaesthesia were recalled by 17.5% of patients in this study. Dreams were more commonly recalled by those who more often recall dreams after sleep, those receiving shorter acting anaesthetics analgesics and those receiving propofol based anaesthesia.


1. Leslie K, Skrzypek H, Paech MJ et al. Dreaming during anesthesia and anesthetic depth in elective surgery patients: a prospective cohort study. Anesthesiology. 2007;106(1):33-42.
2. Leslie K, Sleigh J, Paech MJ et al. Dreaming and electroencephalographic changes during anesthesia maintained with propofol or desflurane. Anesthesiology. 2009;111 (3):547-55.
© 2013 European Society of Anaesthesiology